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May 10, 2007 Issue

Stolen truck leads officers to meth lab and marijuana
Walking for a Cure
Federal agency approves area pipeline project

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Stolen truck leads officers to meth lab and marijuana

• Deputies recover items stolen in Jefferson County at suspect's home

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Following the trail of a stolen truck brought Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies to a location in Richmond County where they discovered not only stolen items from area burglaries but also found a meth lab and a marijuana operation, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office stated Monday.

The truck was stolen March 22 from a location north of Wrens on Highway 17.


The information was entered into the computer system.

The truck was recovered in Richmond County on April 6.

According to a spokesman with the JCSO, the owner brought the truck back home and discovered items in the vehicle that did not belong to him.

“The owner called us,” the spokesman said.

“We retrieved the items and identified some of those items as being from a burglary that had occurred on March 28.

The suspect was Brandon Ballard.”

Ballard, 25, was living in Augusta and it was discovered he had a parole warrant, the spokesman said.

“We arrested him on the parole warrant and recovered more stolen items from the house,” he added.

The items were identified as having been from a burglary in Matthews.

Investigators gained permission from the owner of the house to search. During this search, investigators discovered an active meth lab and the marijuana growing operation in an outbuilding on the property, the spokesman said. “We called Richmond County officers to come and take care of that stuff,” he said. “We brought Ballard back to Jefferson County. He has been charged with one count of theft by taking for the truck and with burglary.

Included in the burglary is an $11,000 dirt bike that has not been recovered yet.”

The spokesman said there is a second suspect in this case whose identity at this time had not been determined.

A witness stated two people were involved.“

Ballard denies taking the motorcycle and denies taking the truck,” the spokesman said.

“He admits to the meth part of it.”

Walking for a Cure

Over $120K raised

By Parish Howard

The organizers, survivors and teams agree, the 13th Annual Jefferson County American Cancer Society Relay For Life was a resounding success.

For the first time in several years, the spring rains held off long enough for the local teams to complete the majority of their Friday evening events and all together, as of Tuesday, the Relay raised $120,616.7


“I was ecstatic when I got the news,” Co-Chair Vickey McDonald said.

“When I heard the amount, I started crying right there.”

After losing so many friends and family members to cancer, the Relay allows participants like McDonald a way to fight the disease first hand.

“It always gives me hope,” she said. This year’s overall fundraising goal was $100,000 was well exceeded.

“We were all very excited about that,” Co-Chair Chris Dube said.

“Jefferson County has really supported the Relay.

The committee has been excellent. They’re hard working, dedicated folks.

We really couldn’t have done any of this without them, the captains and teams who worked so hard.”

The money raised goes back to the American Cancer Society to be used for research, advocacy and education.“

It goes towards research towards a cure, advocacy for the many laws that goes through our legislature that can affect cancer patients’ rights and improving educational efforts so that more cancers can be caught earlier through screenings in hopes of minimizing the diagnoses. Dube said that local law enforcement estimated there were around 2,500 people at the event at the height of its activity Friday evening.

The event opened at 6 p.m.

with more than 160 area cancer survivors taking to the track to lead the teams in the opening lap.

“From everything I’ve heard, that’s the most survivors we’ve ever had take part,” Garrett said.

“We had 125 preregister. I was just thrilled that so many showed up. And then the weather held out, oh, it was wonderful.”

Awards were given for Most Money Raised by a Team. C.J.’s Animals took first, raising $30,795.07.

First State Bank, one of the few teams that has been a part of the local relay since its inception, took second, raising $15,685.99.

The Seeker’s, a new team this year, took third raising $10,020.

Amounts raised by other teams include: Queensborough National Bank at $9,042.52, Mt. Horeb at $8,911.47, J.M. Huber $8,800, Disciples For Life at $7,918.72, Wrens Middle School at $7,466.70, Schoolhouse Rockers at $4,546.50, Glit/Microtron at $3,817, Regions Bank at $3,817.36, Jefferson Hospital at $3,593.78, The Pac Team $2,093, Crystal Garrer’s Team of Hope at $1,646, The Heritage of Old Capitol at $1,509 and Friends for Life at $370.

Other awards included Most Money Raised by a School, which went to Wrens Middle School; and Most Money Raised By a Bank, which went to First State.

The Seekers were recognized with the Team Spirit Award.

Rande Williford received the Individual Spirit Award. Mt. Horeb Baptist Church, another first-year team, was recognized for both the Best Campsite and the Survivor’s Choice Award.

Judges for the talent show included Sydney McGahee, Rita Culvern, Dollye Ward, Sandra Jones and Gloria Brown.

Corporate sponsors were responsible for $18,500.

They include Glit, Wrens Medical Associates, First State Bank, C.J.’s Animals, Queensborough National Bank, Jefferson Energy, Regions, M.B. Jones Oil Company, W.T. Lamb Investment, Wrens Dental Center, Disciples For Life, J.M. Huber Corporation, Mt. Horeb Baptist Church, Dixon Builders, Lamb Lumber Company, Atwell Pecan Company, Wrens Finance, City of Wrens, Jay’s, WPEH and The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter.

The co-chairs said that there may be a few more funds that continue to trickle in over the next couple of weeks, but that the total raised should be available by the time the event’s wrap-up meeting, which is yet to be scheduled.

Federal agency approves area pipeline project

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates and oversees energy industries in the economic, environmental, and safety interests of the American public, was scheduled to issue a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in January regarding a proposal by the El Paso Corporation to create a pipeline from Elba Island near Savannah to Anderson County, S.C.

The pipeline would be approximately 190 miles and pass through the north end of Jefferson County. The impact statement was not released until March 30, according to Bill Baerg of the El Paso Corporation.


The company is headquartered in Houston, Texas.

The company has already held a series of town hall meetings in effected communities.

The proposed route would bring the pipeline through Wrens, Baerg said.

“We have filed that as our proposed route.

So depending on what we get the approval on will determine our route,” he said.

Information from the report states, “FERC’s environmental staff concludes that the Elba III Project with appropriate mitigating measures, as recommended, would have limited adverse environmental impact.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service cooperated in the preparation of the draft EIS.”

The draft states the length of pipeline to be about 187 miles in Georgia and South Carolina with a new 10,000-horsepower compressor station in Georgia and associated aboveground facilities.

FERC staff concluded the project would be acceptable environmentally, with appropriate mitigation. Among other items, the draft states the proposal would be an expansion of an existing and fully operational import terminal with an established deep-water slip and established exclusion zones.

The ship and associated escort vessels would use an existing shipping corridor, dredge spoil would be disposed of properly, safety features would be incorporated into the design and operation and the proposed pipeline would parallel existing right of way for more than half the length, the draft states. A complete report may be found at FERC’s website, www.ferc.gov.

FERC commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations and the final EIS when they make a decision on the project, the report states.

“There will still be a period now where after the report’s been issued the public will have a comment period on the report and then the FERC will either make changes or they will issue a final report in the future,” Baerg said.

“We’re pleased to see that the FERC has released this draft report and we look forward to moving this important energy infrastructure project forward in the approval process.”

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